Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday said that resolution of the long-pending Teesta water sharing issue will transform bilateral ties with India. “On Teesta issue, Prime Minister Modi once again reiterated his government’s strong resolve to conclude the water sharing treaty at the soonest,” Hasina said, speaking at a reception by India Foundation, a Delhi-based policy advocacy group. “Once it happens, the face of Indo-Bangladesh relations would undergo another transformation,” she said. On the shared water resources between the two neighbours, Hasina said: “We strongly believe our common water resources must act as a uniting force.”
“A comprehensive, basin-wide solution with in-built solution to water sharing of all common rivers holds the key to our common future,” she added. Speaking on her interaction with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banjerjee on the issue, the visiting Bangladesh Prime Minister said: “But I do not know what Didi (Mamata) would do. In my talks with her she gave a new twist, but Modiji has assured that we are here to look after it.
“We had asked for water but she is giving us electricity. At least we got something,” she said in a lighter note. Though an agreement on sharing of the Teesta waters was drafted ahead of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Bangladesh in 2011, it was withdrawn at the last moment when Banerjee protested against its provisions. Banerjee’s position is that the treaty would render north Bengal dry and affect farmers of her state.
Ahead of Hasina’s visit, Banerjee last Wednesday said there is no water in the river. The West Bengal Chief Minister, whose cooperation is crucial for any river water agreement with Bangladesh, has maintained that she will prioritise her state’s interest while deciding on the proposed water sharing treaty. She has also claimed the Centre has not consulted her over the issue. Hasina is on a four-day official visit to India. This is her first bilateral visit to India in seven years. She last visited the country in January 2010.